The Writing Doctor

Grammar, academic writing advice, rhetoric, and composition.

Eliminate To Be Verbs

Eliminate To Be Verbs

One of the complaints I hear from students with some frequency is that they have been told by a teacher or fellow writer that they need to eliminate the ‘to be’ verbs in their writing, and they have no idea what that means.

It is actually a really confusing comment. If you’re feeling confused by it, you’re not alone.

It is important advice to take though. Eliminating ‘to be verbs’ improves any…

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Register Switching

Learning how to switch registers at will not only makes you a stronger writer, it will also make you a stronger speaker, and hopefully help you be more successful.

Being able to speak the same language as your reader can put them at ease, or do the opposite. Read to the end for fun tips on how to make everyone in a room uncomfortable.

What are Registers?

Register is a sociolinguistic term that…

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The Writing Process

Much like conducting a scientific experiment, or baking a perfect loaf of bread, writing a paper of any sort requires a process. The process for every piece of writing will vary wildly, but the process I’m about to delve into will work as a universal skeleton of a process that you can use.

As your writing needs grow, you may need to change your process (think of this as the ‘adding chocolate…

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Who,That, and Which

This is a weird one I’ve been seeing in papers a great deal this week. Not only from my middle school tutorees, but even from my friends with  PhD’s. So, if you’re messing these three up, don’t feel bad, you’re in great company.

What They Are:

Who, that, and which are three words that usually serve as clarifiers. Given the amount of vagueness in writing, I’m in favor of anything that helps to…

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The Universal “You”

The Universal “You”

The Universal You Doesn’t Exist

One of the hard and fast rules of academic writing is that there is no universal you. There are a lot of reasons for this, the largest being that it reduces the efficacy of your paper. It also can cause the audience to lose interest, assuming simply that your paper is not meant for them. The fact of the matter is, there is no universal you. People are different,…

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Sentence Structure: The Appositive

Sentence Structure: The Appositive

What an Appositive Is: 

Appositives are phrases that provide additional information or another name for a noun. They are fantastic for clarification, and provide a little bit of zest to sentences. Unfortunately, many people do not correctly punctuate appositives.

When to Use an Appositive: 

Appositive’s should be added whenever you’re using a term that could be construed as unclear, since they…

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Logical Fallacies: The Straw Man

Logical Fallacies: The Straw Man

Logical Fallacies contaminate your entire paper, so I recommend searching for their existence at the outlining or rough drafting stage. Rewriting at the midnight hour because you found a logical fallacy in your final draft is a rough place to be (but we have all been there). Straw Man Fallacy: Creating a mock-up of the opposing view that is one dimensional, and thus easy to poke holes in. Much…

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Three Writing Mistakes You’re Making

Three Writing Mistakes You’re Making

Everyone makes mistakes. The key is to stop making the same mistakes. There are a million ways to mess up, so why keep repeating the same three?

This post is about the three most common writing mistakes I see not only in the academic writing of students, but also in creative writing.

#1 Not Prewriting

This is perhaps one of the most confusing mistakes to me. How terrifying is it to sit down at a…

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Top Five Ways to Self-Edit

Top Five Ways to Self-Edit

Learning how to self-edit is one of the most freeing accomplishments in the world. Suddenly, you can submit small assignments to your teacher knowing that they’ll be solid. You become a more confident writer, and you need less time and assistance from others.

Self-editing is independence.

This system can help with any paper and any problem. As long as you commit to it, and try your hardest.

Don’t…

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